MERCED -- For five years, 8-year-old Isaac Jones had been praying for a younger brother or sister.
Recently his prayers were answered in abundance, with the arrival of quintuplets for his missionary parents Gavin and Carrie Jones.
Gavin Jones, 35, a native of Merced who graduated from Merced High School in 1995, left for college and a career with Wycliffe Bible translators. He said he and his wife are excited about what the future holds for the family as the quints grow up.
"I am so thankful for all the prayers and support from people," Jones said. "This will be a unique family experience; it will take a lot of adjustment."
The infants' grandparents, Larry and Marcia Jones of Merced, are retired teachers and had five grandchildren before the quints were born Aug. 9 at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. The births attracted worldwide media attention. Only about 12 sets of quintuplets are born each year in the United States.
Marcia Jones said the five babies, born at 27 weeks, will be in the hospital for about two months. One of the five had a collapsed lung and breathing problems. Since surgery to add a port for medication and blood-gas treatments, he's doing much better.
Gavin Jones is a helicopter pilot for Wycliffe in Papua New Guinea, an island nation north of Australia. He said many parts of the rugged country are inaccessible, making travel by helicopter necessary.
The five infants are housed in the hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Their names are David Stephen, Will Edward, Seth Jared, Grace Elise and Marcie Jane.
"They (quints) are doing pretty well," Jones said. "They are slowly but steadily improving."
Jones said Tuesday that Seth is struggling with his lung function and Grace is still on a ventilator. The other three are doing well.
Jones said his wife took shots to make it easier to conceive but it was a huge shock at first when they learned five babies were coming.
"It was something we never expected to hear," Jones said.
UT Southwestern Medical Center spokesmen said a delivery team of 50 specialists, nurses and therapists attended the births. The babies were delivered in less than five minutes.
The babies' weights ranged from 1 pound, 12 ounces to 2 pounds, 11 ounces.
The Joneses are living with Carrie Jones' parents in Duncanville, a Dallas suburb.
Gavin Jones has a brother and sister, Jared Jones and Jonelle Retsema, who live in Newberg, Ore. He said he has many relatives in the Merced-
Atwater area and lots of ties to the region.
He just received his flight instructor's license this spring in North Carolina, through the technical branch of Wycliffe, a worldwide group specializing in translating the Bible into native languages.
A 1999 graduate of LeTourneau University in Longview, Texas, with a bachelor's degree in aviation, Gavin Jones spent two years in Colombia before the stint in New Guinea.
He said New Guinea has a huge diversity of languages and cultures, with most of the country covered by jungles. It's on the second largest island in the world.
Marcia Jones, who retired in 2007 after 21 years of teaching music at Winton schools, said that older brother Isaac is excited. "He's been praying for a sibling for five years."
"We're just thrilled," Marcia Jones said. "It's an overwhelming thought but we're very thankful. It's a gift from the Lord."
Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or email@example.com.